The Right Thing To Do

Posted: August 12, 2020

This story originally appeared in the “OUTDOOR RETAILER” – Summer 2020

The Right Thing to Do

Crown Enterprises found a simple way to thrive during the pandemic. The shop puts employees, community and customers first.

By Eugene Buchanan

Want to know what it takes to not only survive, but thrive in today’s COVID-19-crushed retail world? Take a lesson from Joe Power, president of employee-owned Crown Enterprises, which operates five outdoor retail store across Montana, Idaho and Washington.

Spoiler alert: The answer involves compassion, customers and employees. And the result has been serendipitous; after re-opening, Crown has seen products flying off the shelves.

“Now that we’re all open again, our revenues are up 10% for the year,” says Power, adding hot-selling categories include bikes, paddlesports, guns, camping and fishing, with footwear, casualwear and apparel also doing well. There have also been a few surprises, he adds. The stores have sold more trampolines this year than in the past ten years combined, with golf up 80% and running up 100%. And much of this stems from forsaking the bottom line.

A week before authorities requested, Power took the liberty of closing his stores early. “It was the right thing to do,” he says. “People weren’t really understanding social distancing, and you could see the uncertainty in our employees’ eyes. It just wasn’t right to make them come in.”

Even after friend and Kalispell, Montana, Mayor Mark Johnson reminded him he didn’t have to close, as his stores were “essential businesses,” Power felt it was more important to protect his employees than make money. “We put health before wealth,” he says. “Our bank is local, and before we even knew about PPP, we knew everyone would be understanding if we didn’t have the best year.”

In all, four stores were closed for five weeks and one for 10 weeks. Rather than lay them off, throughout it all, Power continued paying the stores’ 210 employees. “I was really worried about people’s health insurance,” he says.

“It’s a great example of a business making decisions based on what’s best for their employees,” says Johnson. “He’s a great partner to have in the community – especially during these times.”

Then Power took it a step further. As more closures came on line and grocery stores became barren, he woke up from a 2a.m. nightmare worried about people’s ability to procure food. So he took $25,000 worth of backpacking and camping meals from his inventory and had his staff donate them to local food banks of their choice.

“Everyone we knew in the service industry was out of work and likely needing food,” he says, adding the gesture helped lift the spirits of his team. “It gave our employees something different and positive to focus on.”

When the stores reopened, the favors were returned – sales increased despite a lack of visitors from Canada, which typically represents 25% of its business.

“We have great customers who are really loyal to us, and I think this strengthened that even more,” says Power, who made his own pact to eat and shop locally as much as he could during the shutdown.

He also credits the uptick to people wanting to get outside. “Instead of spending money at the movie theater, people are applying that to a new trampoline,” he says. While he admits it’s tough to refill the shelves and procure products from vendors, when a shipment of 36 kayaks arrived, two went right to the register, never even making it to the wall.

Power’s altruism continued even after reopening. Unable to run the annual Ladies’ night events benefitting local domestic violence shelters, he picked a Saturday to donate $5 from every pair of shoes sold to local programs in an effort to “Stomp Out Domestic Violence”. “It was our way to make up for it,” he says, adding the effort raised more than $2,500.

All this has also boosted sales and his employees’ morale – and given his stores a chance to enhance their relationships with their customers. “Opening back up and doing the right thing gives you a second chance to make a first impression,” he says. “Everyone’s looking at how well we’re behaving and judging us all over again, whether it’s wearing masks or distancing. It’s a great chance for us to step it up.”

Employee Spotlight: Daniel Richmond

Posted: August 3, 2016

Name: Daniel Richmond

Tri-State Outfitters Store: Moscow

Position at Tri-State Outfitters: Sporting Goods Sales Associate

Favorite outdoor activities: Hunting, Backpacking, Shooting.

Favorite places to recreate: Snake River, Clearwater Mountains and anywhere steep and rocky.

Favorite product to use in the field: Sitka Gear, Vortex Optics, Salomon shoes and Big Agnes tent and sleeping pads.


Employee Spotlight: Briana Bradley

Posted: May 9, 2016

My name is Briana Bradley and I was hired on at Tri-State Outfitters in Moscow, ID as a cashier back in August 2014. After 6 months I transferred into the clothing department and have loved it ever since! Tri-State outfitters has been an awesome home and extended family to me for almost 2 years! Not only is it a great place to work but it fuels my adventures. I get to learn about amazing products while at work and wonderful places to explore from customers that I help.

image5-1024x1024Just like our store, my hobbies are a mixture of everything. During the summer months I love to go hiking wherever there’s a trail, mountain biking (especially on the Hiawatha trail), kayaking, and stand-up paddle boarding on the Snake river. Road trips are a weekly endeavor and the Pacific Northwest is my playground.

As far as my favorite products to use on my adventures go, that’s a long list! So some of my favorites are Osprey packs. I have two packs myself and have bought two for my boyfriend because I want to “share the love”. Ahnu is my go-to hiking boot brand because they’re light-weight and feel like they were made for my feet. Prana has the best hiking pants hands-down and my goal is to own them in every color! Last but not least is Arc’teryx for outerwear! I got to visit the factory store in Vancouver which makes me proud that I understand the hard work that went into the jackets that I own and love.

Employee Spotlight: Tige Arnold

Posted: April 1, 2016

Tige Photo 1I’ve been working at Tri-State Outfitters full-time in the shoe department for over 6 years.  I worked full-time at the store during the summers in Receiving at age 15 until age 17 and then full-time in the Shoe Department from 1991 until 1992.  In 1993 I joined the U.S. Army and served 3 years at Fort Carson, Colorado.  After my honorable discharge I became a Footwear Department Head for two years at Gart Sports in Colorado Springs, Colorado while I finished my Associates of Applied Science in Architectural and Structural Drafting from Denver Technical College.  I spent the next 16 years in the architectural industry, after which I returned to Moscow, Idaho to work in the Shoe Department here at Tri-State.  Of all the jobs I have worked in my lifetime, this position has been the most fun and rewarding.

I have fallen in love with my hometown now once again, and now enjoy the outdoors the area has to offer even more than in the past.  My favorite things to do in this area are mountain biking, trail running and hiking, backpacking, hunting and fishing.

Here’s recent review we received about Tige:

“We finally purchased a sports shoe with Tige…  what a phenomenal guy!!!  He knows his products well…. he could sell us the whole store!!  On a serious note, he really does know his shoe product really well and other products in the store.. from the form fitting to the way one’s feet walk (supination, pronation, overpronation, underpronation… bla bla bla)… he knows what shoes to recommend and why.  He is very good with customers in the way he conduct himself very professionally, with confidence, I appreciate how he treated my boyfriend  and me, even though I was there for my boyfriend.  Tige is excellent when it comes to customer service.”

Employee Spotlight: Kate

Posted: August 25, 2015

kate4Name: Kate Reggear

Tri-State Outfitters Store: Lewiston

Position at Tri-State Outfitters: Sales Associate

Favorite outdoor activities: Hunting, Camping, Hiking, Fishing, Kayaking, Dirt-biking.

Favorite places to recreate: Dworshak Reservoir and Northfork Clearwater River.

Favorite product to use in the field:  MSR campstoves, Under Armour, Nightforce Optics, Vortex Optics, Osprey Packs, Kryptek, Tikka, Ugly Stik, Blue Fox Lures.

Employee Spotlight: Kerry

Posted: July 21, 2015

Name: Kerry Lockhart

Years working at Tri-State Outfitters: 4 months.

Tri-State Outfitters Store: Lewiston

Position at Tri-State Outfitters: Sporting Goods

Favorite outdoor activities: Shooting, Hunting, and Fishing.

Favorite places to recreate: I’ve been hunting in Eastern Washington for years – favorite spot is in the foothills of the Blue Mountains. Mostly hunt deer and elk, although I love to hunt just about anything. Favorite fishing spots are the Snake and Clearwater Rivers.

Favorite product to use in the field:  I love my Browning shotguns and Tikka 270WSM rifle. I’ve got a pretty good gun collection so I like to mix it up a bit – probably shot the most game with my old trusty Ruger 77 300WinMag. Gotta go with Sitka for hunting clothing – expensive but worth every penny.  As far as fishing, just got a jet boat so I’m looking forward to learning the rivers and getting better at steelhead fishing. Great camping up the Snake in Hells Canyon, so that’s on the short list once I’ve learned how to run the rapids on the way up. My favorite rod/reel combo is my St. Croix spinning rod with a Penn Battle reel, but I just set up a new steelhead rig with a Rogue rod and Shimano baitcaster that I’m itching to try on later this summer.

Employee Spotlight: Dustin

Posted: June 10, 2015

image5Name: Dustin Boyd

Years working at Tri-State Outfitters: 10 Months

Tri-State Outfitters Store: Moses Lake

Position at Tri-State Outfitters: Sporting Goods/Backpacking/Camping Sales

Favorite outdoor activities: Backpacking, Camping, Rock Climbing, Skiing, Wakeboarding, Wake Surfing. Throwing around the football or frisbee. Kicking around the soccer ball. Whether indoors or outdoors, if it’s active, I’m there.

Favorite places to recreate: I do most of my backpacking around the Enchantments above Leavenworth. I do a lot of camping at Mt. Rainier. Climbing, I stick around the Feathers and Sunshine Wall, which is about 20 minutes away from Moses Lake. And of course, all the boating activities are done on Moses Lake.

Favorite product to use in the field: My Osprey Pack gets everything I need up into the mountains while keeping me cool and comfortable.

Recommend Pack: Osprey Atmos AG 65


Employee Spotlight: Carla

Posted: May 14, 2015

My name is Carla Grieser

I have been working at Tri-State Outfitter for 18 years.  I started in our Lewiston store where I worked in the shoe department.  I then transferred to the Coeur d’Alene store in 1997 and became the Assistant Manager and Clothing Manager.

carla2-spotlightI was born and raised in North Idaho on the St. Joe River.  I grew up fishing, hiking, hunting, and living the good life. My activities include hiking, especially in the Selkirk Mountains, hunting on the St. Joe, fishing in high mountain streams, huckleberry picking in the summer, and any road trip where I get to see any beautiful mountain ranges, the beauty of America, and snowshoeing in the winter months. When I am not in the great outdoors I am gardening, landscaping, and enjoy being with my friends.

My favorite product that I use is my Salomon Quest 4D hiking boots.  Without them my feet would not have been as happy taking me to as many beautiful high mountain lakes or on as many hunting trips.

Employee Spotlight: Stephanie

Posted: April 1, 2015

My name is Stephanie Wakefield. I’ve worked in the shoe department in the Lewiston store for six and a half years. I love my job and enjoy fitting the right shoe with the right person. Being a department manager I am very passionate about customer service and the product we carry. I  love my co-workers and everything Tri-State Outfitters stands for!

photo 3One thing about me is that I love to be with family, whether it be at barbecues or camping. I enjoy spending time with my daughter and long-time boyfriend. We delight in teaching her about the outdoors. We’re avid snowmobilers and Harley riders that like to camp, fish, and shoot guns whenever we get the chance.

photo 1One of the perks of living in Lewiston is that you’re in close range of many prime camping/snowmobiling areas like Waha, Elk River, and the Blues. A good long day trip on the bike is riding through Orofino and up through Pierce and back.

One of my favorite products from Tri-State Outfitters is my Omni Heat base layers by Columbia Sportswear that keep me warm without getting too hot. I also recommend Buff rags for the bike. They help me have “perfect hair every time!”

Employee Spotlight: Marshall

Posted: February 16, 2015

My name is Marshall Barnhouse

I started working at Tri-State Outfitters in Coeur d’Alene in July 2011, so little over 3 years now. I am currently a sales associate, with extensive knowledge in footwear and snowboarding. I was born and raised in North Idaho, so anything you can think of, I’ve done. Last year, I completed my first Tough Mudder event. I also enjoy shreddin some pow, mountain biking, crackin’ cold ones, and trail running.

Some of my personal favorite spots to enjoy the outdoors around Coeur d’Alene include, Lake Pend ‘Oreille (specifically Buttonhook Bay), Farragut State Park (for their trails), and Schweitzer Mountain. Best thing to do is go exploring; drive some dirt roads, hike some woods, you’ll never get bored in Idaho.

* Marshall will be leaving the company late February 2015 to trek into new adventures in Colorado. It’s been a great ride, Marshall. Come back and visit soon.

Employee Spotlight: Randy

Posted: January 31, 2015

My name is Randy Richards, but everyone who knows me from the softball world knows me as “Beetlejuice”. We won’t get into the reason here.

Randy-Snowshoe-webAs of May 20th, 2015 I will have been with Tri-State Outfitters for 15 years. I am the Sporting Goods Department Manager/Shift Manager of the Coeur d’Alene Tri State Outfitters store.
As for my favorite outdoor activities, there are very few things that can be done outdoors that I don’t enjoy. Having been born and raised here in Coeur d’Alene, I have spent my whole life participating in outdoor sports. From skiing, hunting, and snow shoeing in the winter months, to boating, kayaking, hiking, camping, and fishing in the summer months. I would much rather be in the great outdoors than doing anything under a roof.

My wife Pam and I enjoy taking the grand kids with us to teach them the joys of being outdoors, and to show them how blessed they are to live in an area as beautiful as Coeur d’Alene, where one can drive less than an hour any direction and find yourself wading into a river or carving through some fresh powder. I have gotten to be an avid outdoor photographer, and you can’t ask for a better area for a hobby such as that.

Fly Fishing in August on the North Fork of the Coeur d’ Alene River.

Picking any one area that we like to go to more than any other is tough. All of the local ski areas offer great skiing, and I like being able to spend time at all of them. I spend most of my time on Coeur d’Alene Lake mainly because it’s close to home, but I love the peaceful beauty of boating on Pend O’Reille Lake. As for my favorite hiking areas, my wife and I try to map out any areas in Idaho that have waterfalls, and hike in to those. There’s just something ultra majestic about a waterfall.

Stop by and visit Randy at our Coeur d’Alene location anytime!